"Beloved" isn't really a strong enough word to describe The Sound of Music; it's more cultural treasure than movie. And it's a bit of an unlikely candidate for such hallowed ground. The story itself -- a G-rated seducing-the-nanny story -- is almost sickly sweet. Maria, a headstrong novitiate, is sent from a convent to care for the seven children of the recently widowed Captain Von Trapp. She wins over the children with her songs and melts the Captain's hard heart in the process.
It's the other elements that merit a 40th anniversary edition: the performances (Julie Andrews is perfect), the location (Salzburg, Austria); and, of course, the music (a "greatest hits" of Broadway show tunes). Even today, during screenings, audiences actually sing along with the songs' subtitles.
The story does feature the specter of the Third Reich, giving it just enough drama to keep it moving along. But on the special features, you learn that things weren't quite as dramatic as Broadway (and later Hollywood) made them out to be. The family never hiked out of Austria; they just took the train. But there was plenty of drama once the Von Trapps got to America; their music career was slow to take off, and they lived more like a cult under Maria's firm hand than a family. (The first daughter to marry had to elope.) You also learn that it all started when the real Maria wrote her life story, which was made into a popular German film in the 1950s. After that, without consulting an agent, she sold the American rights for $9,000 -- a decision widely bemoaned by the surviving Von Trapp children.
But they aren't so bitter as to bemoan their immortality. Thanks to Rodgers, Hammerstein, Andrews and many others, the Von Trapps will live forever on film. (Rated: G)